Yet two decades later, women still far too rarely take part in formal peace negotiations. Germany is working to promote the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda throughout the world.
When the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution on 31 October 2000 that focused on the role of women in peace and security processes, it was celebrated by many as a sensation. For the first time, the Security Council confirmed that the involvement of women in creating and preserving peace is necessary. Conflict prevention, peace processes and post-conflict peacebuilding were thereby acknowledged as women’s and therefore human rights. Moreover, for the first time the Security Council showed that sexual and gender-based violence is not an unavoidable side-effect of war but a crime that must be systematically punished and eliminated.
Invisible engagement for peace
In many crisis regions, women have long been playing a crucial yet often unnoticed role in peace processes: women negotiate with militia groups to free their children. They create safe spaces in crisis regions to protect their communities. They negotiate humanitarian corridors to ensure access to food supplies, often long before international assistance organisations arrive on the scene.
This is in stark contrast to formal peace negotiations, in which women still do not generally play any official role. Between 1992 and 2019, on average only 13 percent of negotiators were female, although studies show that the involvement of women increases the chances of long-term peace and results in agreements that contain more regulations that equally benefit women and men.
The goal of Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security is to bridge this gap. Over the years, it has been given concrete substance by follow‑up Resolutions 1820, 1888, 1889, 1960, 2106, 2122 and 2242 and by Resolutions 2467 and 2493, which were sponsored by Germany.
Priority of Germany’s membership of the UN Security Council
Since the adoption of Resolution 1325, the Federal Government has worked to promote the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda on the ground in crisis regions, in multilateral organisations and at regional level.
“Women, peace and security” is one of the focuses of Germany’s Security Council membership in 2019 and 2020. During this period, Germany was able to adopt a new resolution on supporting survivors of sexual violence and holding the perpetrators to account to a greater extent. UN peace missions play a key role in stabilising crisis regions. For this reason, Germany worked to anchor the participation of women in crisis prevention and peace processes and improved protection against sexual violence in the mandates to extend the missions. Through Germany’s co-chairmanship of the responsible Security Council Working Group and targeted invitations to representatives from civil society, important, in some cases country-specific meetings of the Security Council received support in the form of expert input on women, peace and security.
Germany is also working to promote the goals of the Agenda in other United Nations bodies, such as the UN Human Rights Council and the Peacebuilding Commission.
Networks in Africa and Latin America
Germany is also engaged on behalf of the Women, Peace and Security agenda outside the UN context. As a co-initiator of the African Women Leaders Network, Germany supports women in transformation processes in African countries, particularly in the spheres of governance, peace and stability. The German-Latin American network Unidas, founded in 2019, also promotes ties and supports feminist projects organised by Latin American organisations.
Activity in crisis regions
In crisis contexts, Germany fosters the political participation of women, for example, through the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund, in which Germany plays an influential role as the second-largest donor. Germany also cooperates with the local civilian population to prevent sexual violence and strengthen survivors. Together with a large number of partners such as the Mukwege Foundation, medica mondiale, the International Organisation for Migration and the All Survivors Project, Germany helps provide medical and psychosocial support to survivors of sexual violence as well as access to sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights.
Germany defends the rights of women in fragile contexts. Civil society organisations cooperate with the local German embassies on projects to promote human rights. In 2020, around 50 human rights projects were promoted as part of the human rights budget item. Germany also protects and supports inclusive formats for peace processes as well as peace activists and human rights defenders by means of project promotion, direct exchange and contact with the German embassies.
These and other measures are outlined in the 2nd Federal Government Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (2017-2020). An implementation report describing the activities of the past four years in detail, and the 3rd Federal Government Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (2021-2024) are in the Pipeline.